The looming mandate to transfer the stockpile of old M1911 pistols from the Army to the Civilian Marksmanship Program excites handgun enthusiasts who are interested in picking one. The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act approved by Congress last week involves hundreds of sections, and one of them outlines a two-year pilot program for moving the surplus .45ACP GI longslides from the Army to the federally chartered non-profit corporation assigned with promoting rifle practice and firearms safety training. Here is what those interested in picking one up should expect.
What’s up for grabs?
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, disclosed in 2015 that the military spends around $2 per year to store a hundred thousands of Model 1911s that are surplus to the needs of the Army. While 8,300 have been loaned or sold in recent years – mainly through the 1033 Program of the Department of Defense, which offers eligible law enforcement up to one pistol per full-time officer – the guns still on hand have been stored since the 1980s in many cases when they were withdrawn from service in favor of the then new-Beretta 92F (M9). The production of Model 1911’s for military contracts largely ended by 1945. It means that the guns on hand date to the World War II-era or before.
How do you get them?
The CMP, by law, can only sell surplus military firearms given to the organization by the Army to affiliated clubs’ adult members who meet specific guidelines. These guidelines include being a U.S. citizen, not prohibited from possessing a firearm, a member of a CMP-affiliated organization, and proof of marksmanship-related activity for those under 60.
On the positive note, there are literally thousands of shooting and collecting clubs and Veterans organizations, such as the VFW, that are CMP affiliated. Furthermore, showing a marksmanship or firearms knowledge is as comfortable as sending a copy of a concealed carry permit, proof of participation in a shooting competition or military service records.
When will they be available?
First off, the White House must still approve the NDAA and sign it into law. Under its guidelines, the military will send no less than 8,000 M1911s and no more than 10,000 to the CMP each year for the next two years. To implement, it will require the Secretary of the Army. The process of transporting the guns from the Anniston Army Depot across town to the warehouses of the CMP is the easy part. The lengthy process that could take months will start when CMP starts going through the mystery crates and inspecting, grading, test-firing and cataloging what is inside. Some of the guns could be incomplete, others could need repairs, the reason those weapons will have to be checked and certified.
What will they cost?
For sought-after models, extremely rare variants and those with limited runs will likely be sold on individual auctions through the site of the CMP. Several commercial vendors made the military contract 1911s. These include Singer, Remington Rand, North American, Ithaca, Colt, UMC and Union Switch & Signal. Some were made in government arsenals at Springfield Armory and usually reworked by unit armorers in the field and at depots during their lifespan. Rare variants of the 1911s include the 1916-marked examples, “big stamp” guns with oversized property marks. Those with limited runs include the Singers and US&S.